Client vs Customer.

In 1999, Tom Peters wrote his worst selling book – “Reinventing Work – Professional Services Firm 50”.

However, he recently described it as his “most important” which prompted me to dust off my copy and I rediscovered this gem about the difference between a Client and a Customer.

“A Client is:

  • a partner
  • someone with whom I have an intimate relationship
  • in it with me for the long haul
  • someone with whom I co-invent the future
  • a person/organisation in whose outcomes I have a big personal stake
  • someone with whom I have an emotional bond
  • someone with whom I can’t work if trust is not paramount
  • the source of my reputation (for better or for worse)
  • my No.1 “word-of-mouth” marketer!
  • someone who grows with me
  • someone who loses when I lose
  • someone who wins when I win”


This brilliantly highlights the difference between the transactional (customer) relationship and the trusted (client) partnership.

Now, more than ever, to succeed with a premium offering, it’s essential to make interactions highly personal, individual and above all relevant.

Print out a list of your current landlords and sellers and ask, “to what extent does the list above apply, do I have clients or just customers?”

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